Seamons v. Spackman, No. 8670

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtSMITH; TAYLOR, KNUDSON and McQUADE, JJ., and BURTON
Citation341 P.2d 442,81 Idaho 361
Decision Date06 July 1959
Docket NumberNo. 8670
PartiesSharon SEAMONS, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Garth SPACKMAN, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 442

341 P.2d 442
81 Idaho 361
Sharon SEAMONS, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Garth SPACKMAN, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 8670.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
July 6, 1959.

[81 Idaho 362]

Page 443

Anderson & Anderson, Pocatello, for appellant.

Johnson & Olson, Pocatello, for respondent.

[81 Idaho 363] SMITH, Justice.

Plaintiff, respondent, during September 1957, commenced this action seeking damages for seduction. She alleges in her complaint that on July 12, 1957, the date of the offense, she was, and is, a single woman aged 19 years, of previously chaste character; that on said date defendant wilfully and maliciously enticed and persuaded her to have illicit intercourse with him, and then and there seduced and carnally knew her, and that thereby she became pregnant; that by reason of the seduction and pregnancy plaintiff suffered and continues to suffer ill health and injury, humiliation, shame and mental distress; that her reputation has been permanently injured, her prospects ruined, and that she will be forced to discontinue employment, to her damage in amounts alleged.

Defendant, appellant, is 35 years of age. In his answer, he generally denied the allegations relating to the seduction and damage, and affirmatively alleged that on July 12, 1957, plaintiff was not a woman of previous chaste character.

The trial court set the case for trial by jury, December 30, 1957. The court denied defendant's motion for a continuance until the birth of the child; also denied his motions for nonsuit and directed verdict.

The jury returned a verdict of general and exemplary damages in favor of plaintiff against the defendant, upon which the court December 31, 1957, rendered judgment. The court thereafter denied defendant's motion for a new trial. Defendant has appealed from the judgment.

Defendant assigns as error the refusal of the trial court to grant his motion for a continuance.

[81 Idaho 364] I.C. § 5-308 reads as follows:

'An unmarried female may prosecute, as plaintiff, an action for her own seduction, and may recover therein such damages, pecuniary or exemplary, as are assessed in her favor.'

The gravamen of the action for seduction, contemplated by such section of the statute, is not 'pregnancy', although pregnancy may be a consideration in the enhancement of damages. 79 C.J.S. Seduction § 25, p. 982; Sutherland on Damages, § 1283, p. 4966; Shadix v. Brown, 216 Ala. 516, 113 So. 581.

The trial court permitted plaintiff to place before the jury her alleged damage attributable to the pregnancy, fortified by relevant jury instructions.

Plaintiff's attending physician testified from information gained by detailed examinations of plaintiff, disregarding her statements relating to the time of the alleged seduction; the physician referring to the time when he heard the foetal heart tones which, he stated, occur from the 18th to 20th week of gestation, testified that he estimated the birth of the child would occur near the middle of April, 1958, at the expiration of the 40 weeks of gestation usually required, plus or minus two weeks. Additionally, the court permitted plaintiff to show elements of special damage by way of expense in obtaining requisite hospitalization and medical attendance which included a period of six weeks convalescence; also plaintiff testified concerning her employment, her wage rate, and the time when she discontinued that work. Thus, defendant was not prejudiced by the court's refusal to grant the continuance.

A motion for continuance is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court and its ruling will not be disturbed unless it has abused such discretion. Lanning v. Sprague, 71 Idaho 138, 227 P.2d 347; Pauley v. Salmon River Lumber Co., 74 Idaho 483, 264 P.2d 466. We find no abuse of discretion in the denial of the motion for continuance.

Defendant next assigns error of the trial court in giving instructions Nos.

Page 444

Three 1 and Five, 2 defining seduction, wherein is contained the words, 'urgent importunity' and 'professions of attachment'.

[81 Idaho 365] 'Importunity' is defined as persistent, pressing, or pertinacious solicitation; urgent request; Black's Law Dictionary, Ballentine's Law Dictionary, Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Rawle's Third Revision, Webster's New Int'l Dictionary, 2d Ed. Clearly, 'urgent importunity' as well as 'professions of attachment' are included within the purview of the meaning of enticement or persuasion.

In Kralick v. Shuttleworth, 49 Idaho 424, 439, 289 P. 74, 80, this Court approved a jury instruction reciting that if the jury find that the plaintiff 'at the time of the alleged seduction maintained a habit of sexual virtue, she may be deemed chaste within the meaning of the law, so that an invasion of that virtue under false promises, artifice, professions of attachment, or urgent importunity would entitle her to an award of such damages, if any, as are shown by a preponderance of the evidence,' based upon the theory, among others, that the plaintiff was 'not capable of combatting the artifices made use of by defendant.'

In 47 Am.Jur., Seduction, p. 661, § 65, it is stated:

'* * * Generally, however, the presence of the following factors is regarded as essential to the maintenance of an action and recovery of damages for seduction: (1) enticement, persuasion, or solicitation of some nature; (2) chastity of the female at the time of the alleged seduction; and (3) sexual intercourse as a result of the enticement.'

and in § 66, relating to the element of enticement, persuasion or solicitation, it is stated:

'* * * Generally * * *, three more or less definite forms of conduct on the part of the defendant have been recognized as sufficient to authorize an action: (1) solicitation and importunity; (2) lovemaking creating a desire in the woman for improper relations; and (3) false promises and artifice. Although the three often concur and cannot be clearly distinguished, presence of any one of the elements appears to be sufficient to support an action. It is generally a question for the jury to determine under proper instruction from the Court.'

In Fulgham v. Gatfield, 72 Idaho 367, 241 P.2d 824, 826, this Court approved the following jury instruction:

'You are instructed that seduction is defined as the act of inducing a woman of a previous chaste character to consent to unlawful sexual intercourse, [81 Idaho 366] brought about by enticement, persuasion or promise of marriage on the part of the person charged with the act.'

citing Opitz v. Hayden, 17 Wash.2d 347, 135 P.2d 819, 827, wherein it is stated:

'* * * it was, as we have already indicated, simply a case of...

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8 practice notes
  • Mann v. Safeway Stores, Inc., No. 11220
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • February 8, 1974
    ...grant or denial of a motion for judgment n.o.v. since that decision is appealable under I.C. § 13-201 (1972 Supp.). Seamons v. Spackman, 81 Idaho 361, 341 P.2d 442 (1959). If we were to continue to use the 'any evidence' test used in Banz v. Jordan Motor Co., supra, it is conceivable that a......
  • Big Butte Ranch, Inc. v. Grasmick, No. 9722
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 7, 1966
    ...is for the jury. I.C. § 9-201; Curzon v. Wells Cargo, Inc., supra; Harper v. Johannesen, 84 Idaho 278, 371 P.2d 842; Seamons v. Spackman, 81 Idaho 361, 341 P.2d 442; Tonkin-Clark Realty Co. v. Hedges, 24 Idaho 304, 133 P. As a part of his third assignment of error appellant claims that unde......
  • Breece v. Jett, No. 37824
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • August 30, 1977
    ...clearly distinguished, the presence of any one of them appears to be sufficient to support an action." Quoted in Seamons v. Spackman, 81 Idaho 361, 341 P.2d 442, 444 However, there must be something more than a mere reluctance on the part of the woman to commit the act, and her consent......
  • Dawson v. Eldredge, No. 9015
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 15, 1962
    ...verdict, likewise, cannot be disturbed on appeal. C. R. Crowley, Inc. v. Soelberg, 81 Idaho 480, 346 P.2d 1063; Seamons v. Spackman, 81 Idaho 361, 341 P.2d Appellant assigns error in the finding of the court that Dawson had waived [84 Idaho 336] his lien rights, and in its determination tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Mann v. Safeway Stores, Inc., No. 11220
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • February 8, 1974
    ...grant or denial of a motion for judgment n.o.v. since that decision is appealable under I.C. § 13-201 (1972 Supp.). Seamons v. Spackman, 81 Idaho 361, 341 P.2d 442 (1959). If we were to continue to use the 'any evidence' test used in Banz v. Jordan Motor Co., supra, it is conceivable that a......
  • Big Butte Ranch, Inc. v. Grasmick, No. 9722
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 7, 1966
    ...is for the jury. I.C. § 9-201; Curzon v. Wells Cargo, Inc., supra; Harper v. Johannesen, 84 Idaho 278, 371 P.2d 842; Seamons v. Spackman, 81 Idaho 361, 341 P.2d 442; Tonkin-Clark Realty Co. v. Hedges, 24 Idaho 304, 133 P. As a part of his third assignment of error appellant claims that unde......
  • Breece v. Jett, No. 37824
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • August 30, 1977
    ...clearly distinguished, the presence of any one of them appears to be sufficient to support an action." Quoted in Seamons v. Spackman, 81 Idaho 361, 341 P.2d 442, 444 However, there must be something more than a mere reluctance on the part of the woman to commit the act, and her consent......
  • Dawson v. Eldredge, No. 9015
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 15, 1962
    ...verdict, likewise, cannot be disturbed on appeal. C. R. Crowley, Inc. v. Soelberg, 81 Idaho 480, 346 P.2d 1063; Seamons v. Spackman, 81 Idaho 361, 341 P.2d Appellant assigns error in the finding of the court that Dawson had waived [84 Idaho 336] his lien rights, and in its determination tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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